American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Staying Cool and Clear of Heat Rash

Baby in summer​Summer’s warm temperatures can lead to something even more uncomfortable - heat rash. Though it's common in infants, heat rash can affect adults, too, especially during hot, humid weather. 

Heat rash develops when your sweat ducts become blocked and perspiration is trapped under your skin. The blocked sweat then tends to seep into the nearby tissue, irritating the skin and causing rashes. 

Symptoms can typically include: 

  • Tiny red bumps surrounded by a zone of red skin.

  • Itchy or prickly feeling in the affected area.

  • Little or no sweating in the affected areas. 

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“Babies are prone to the condition because their sweat glands are not fully developed, but adults who are overweight, on bed rest or live in a hot, humid climate are particularly susceptible,” says Rob Danoff, DO, an osteopathic family physician in Philadelphia. 

When You Should See Your Doctor 

Heat rash tends to clear quickly on its own, usually disappearing within a matter of hours or a day once skin is cool. However, it's time to make an appointment with a physician if you or your child has symptoms that last longer than a few days or you observe signs of infection, such as: 

  • Increased pain, swelling, redness or warmth around the affected area.

  • Golden yellow crust formation or pus draining from lesions.

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, neck or groin.

  • A fever or chill.

“Severe forms of heat rash may require topical therapies, such as lotions containing calamine, colloidal oatmeal or cortisone cream to soothe itching," Dr. Danoff says. 

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with you to help prevent injury and encourage your body’s natural tendency toward self-healing.

Keep Cool to Prevent Heat Rash   

Dr. Danoff recommends these tips to prevent heat rash:
  • Wear loose "breathable" clothes that will allow your sweat to evaporate.

  • Bathe in cool water with a non-drying soap that doesn't contain fragrances or dyes.

  • Keep your sleeping area cool and well ventilated.


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